Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with yet more panel coverage! I’m a geek machine! Granted a kinda glitchy machine considering all the spelling and grammar errors in these reports, but a machine nonetheless.
Let’s look at the Man of Steel panel, shall we? Zack Snyder took the stage and brought up his Superman, Mr. Henry Cavill before showing an extended preview, which I believe he said is different than the teaser, which will for sure be attached to The Dark Knight Rises, by the way.
Let me say up front that going into this panel I was not sold on Henry Cavill playing Superman. He’s not a bad actor, but never really stood out to me and I didn’t really like his look in the publicity stills. I also thought Suckerpunch was a couple hours of Zack Snyder jerking off on the audience, but I do have a deep appreciation of his visual talents and honestly think he did as good of a job as anybody possibly could have in adapting Watchmen for the big screen.
I expected the Superman footage to be big on visual flair, so I was pleasantly surprised to find the stuff he screened to be aimed much more somber legend-building, setting up Superman as a man unsure of his role in our world. There were shots of a kid (possibly young Clark) running around playing in a rural front yard, a red blanket tied around his neck. You don’t see his face, but he ends his running around in the classic hands-on-hips Superman pose.
Kal-El’s voiceover is essentially talking about how his father believes he should keep his powers secret, that people will turn on him and he doesn’t know what to do. I’m not sure which “father” tells him this as we get shots of both Kevin Costner and Clark (Pa Kent showing him the alien ship that he arrived in, which was much more Ridley Scott in design than Richard Donner) and adult Clark face to face with Russell Crowe’s Jor-El (hologram? Looked solid, but it’s gotta be some trickery).
There was a quick shot of Michael Shannon as Zod (which Zack would not ever comment on, calling his character “that guy”, but we all know it’s Zod)… had something, maybe part of a suit that sat on his shoulders, as a life jacket would, a goatee (he is evil afterall) and a short Caesar haircut.
Speaking of Shannon there was also a shot that looked like a scene out of Take Shelter, a huge tornado twirling behind a woman holding a child.
A couple other details stood out to me… there was a shot of Cavill being thrown through a window, back crashing into a giant bank vault door, which looks to be where this publicity still comes from (although that still looks very digital and clean, whereas the footage shown was much more filmick):
When Superman flies up up and away, the atmosphere bends around him when he reaches speed, much like it does a jet. That was pretty cool. There was also a shot of Cavill sans shirt completely on fire as he runs through a burning room, of course not burning himself.
Another sequence featured young Clark Kent on his school bus that gets in an accident, falling off a bridge into water. The kids scream and a voiceover of one of the kid’s mothers says “My daughter saw what Clark did” against a shot of young Clark at the back of the bus, lifting it out of the water as a young girl turns her head and they lock eyes.
There really doesn’t seem to be a lot of trust in Superman in this film. We were shown shots of Supes being walked along military corridors by soldiers with guns at the ready, a bearded Clark Kent looking like a damn lumberjack sitting in the rain, looking conflicted and kind of sad.
Like I mentioned above, it was very much about introducing us to a new Superman, much more in line with the mood of Alex Ross’ more realistic portraits of the man. In that respect it’s much closer to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films tonally.
This is a more restrained Zack Snyder if the footage is any indication. And having gone in not sold on Cavill I’m significantly more intrigued by his portrayal of Kal-El. He’s somehow taking Superman away from the Christopher Reeve mold yet still feeling like Superman. There’s a lot going on in his eyes, the performance very internalized.
Some interesting panel tid-bits:
-When asked about a Justice League movie, Snyder wouldn’t talk too much, but he did say this: “Superman is the jewel in the DC crown and lets just say we're getting his house in order.”
-The footage didn’t feature John Williams’ iconic theme in any form and Snyder confirmed that it won’t appear in this film. He pretty much just said that he didn’t want to set up this whole new cinematic version, making it something separate from the previous films and then go and steal the score. In other words, he wants to cleanly cut the umbilical from the Donner films. Can’t say I blame him, but I hope Hans Zimmer knows just how fucked his position is here. He’s kind of in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t spot. Good luck to you, sir.
-Cavill cited Death of Superman, Return of Superman and Superman: Red Son as where he drew much of his understanding of the character from.
-Someone asked Snyder who would win in a fight, his Superman or Chris Nolan’s Batman. Snyder laughed and said, “Batman is literally awesome, but really? Come on!” gesturing behind him at the giant screen we just watched the footage of Supes flying through the upper atmosphere and crushing safe doors with his body.
Whether the movie turns out good or not, I’m at least impressed with what seems like a new side of Snyder as a director here. He’s going for a tone and feel that will either work in the same way Batman Begins did or won’t suit the big blue Boy Scout at all. I guess we’ll see in a year’s time.